The Association of European Airlines (AEA) has submitted a report to the EU Commission in which immediate improvement of commercial and regulatory competitiveness for European passenger and cargo airlines is being demanded. The AEA fears that without forward driving decisions by the lawmakers in Brussels the European carriers will fall even further behind their state-aided rivals.
In their report, the 24 AEA member airlines point out that air transport makes a significant contribution to the EU GDP, amounting to as much as €1 billion per day and generating employment for
5.5 million people. Adding in tourism and other catalytic components supported by the air transport sector ups these figures to a GDP contribution of €1.4 bn daily and over 9 million jobs.
“That’s why air transport is a key enabler of economic development,” emphasizes the airline lobby.
Wake up call
The report further states that almost half of global trade transported is flown on routes to and from Europe, of which European airlines move the lion’s share.
However, all this is at risk, at least as far as the European passenger and cargo carriers’ contributions to transport and connectivity are concerned, as the association stated in their appeal to the EU Commission.
In this strategic approach, called ‘Flightpath 2019’ the AEA urges EU politicians and lawmakers to pave the way for a competitive aviation policy to prevent a worst case scenario, presuming that European carriers will inevitably lose additional market share to rivals from other continents if the risks identified are not effectively dealt with.
Blend of homemade problems…
According to the AEA, the European carriers have been forced into a political framework of decrees and laws crippling their progress (development). This dangerous development is in part home made by over regulating the aviation sector, imposing night flight bans on intercontinental European hubs like Frankfurt or restricting traffic (to a lesser extent) at gateways like Amsterdam, reducing European carriers’ operational abilities and financial margins. In contrast, Istanbul, Dubai or Beijing allow uninterrupted traffic (24/7/365), the AEA compares.
This costs jobs!
“Flights to and from the EU, carried out by an EU-based airline will result in at least four times more local employment than the same flight by a Non-EU airline,” is emphasized in the report.
… and outside pressure
However, home-made restrictions are only one side of the coin. The other side is the lack of a level playing field in international aviation with commercial EU carriers competing against international rivals that are state subsidized or are protected in other ways politically.
The AEA stated: “In order to improve aviation relations between the EU and non‐EU regions and to increase the presence of EU airlines, the first priority for the EU should be to define and enforce a regulatory framework which ensures fair and equal opportunities to compete long term.”
In other words: The politicians in Brussels should take action to stop distortions and discriminations and restore fair trade conditions in the market to secure the chance for survival of their carriers operating globally.
Brussels prepares a comprehensive aviation package
The AEA expects that most of their proposals to improve sustainable development and long-term competitiveness of EU carriers will become part of the aviation package announced by the EU Commission for the end of this year. AEA’s CEO Athar Husein Khan states: “This a unique opportunity for Europe to check in for the flight forward and to regain its leading position in the global aviation market. The aviation industry is ready to play its important role in the jobs and economic growth agenda of the Commission. We are looking forward to constructive discussions with the Commission.”
Heiner Siegmund / Michael Taweel